A Living Magazine – Tap Root: Days 307 to 365 – One Year Down and Closing the Living Magazine
It seems like ages since I sat down to write a blog post here. In fact it has only been five months. How did my summer go? Thank you for asking! Ha, ha!
Well, this last summer was the first time in my life that I devoted real effort and intentionality working on my inner world. Thanks to a long-time patron, I had steady income from a project I was hired to help with. This regularity of income allowed for much personal meditation in my spare time. Contemplation and psychic realignment were finally possible. Subsequently, I have slowly been teaching myself (reminding myself?) that things will work out fine–that the REALLY will. Lo and behold, whenever I was able to hush the self-criticism and slap away my concerns about expectations that other people have for me, I found that things did actually work out fine!
Now that the darkness and starkness of winter is approaching again, I feel like I can face the public work I’ve put on hold all these months without being distracted by my unsettled moods. But before I talk more about my current situation, let’s see some shots from late July, ending my first year in Farmington…
I built a new stand for the solar panel and pulled it out into an more open and sunny spot.
I spliced junction boxes into the system to extend the wire (using heavy jumper cables).
An area before adding vegetables.
Entrance way and kitchen area.
Heavenly Blue Morning Glory.
Before setting up the new cot.
Garden water items.
Future “Sunset Bench” area.
Compost. On the right is 2017’s on the left is 2018’s.
Typical of the summer sunsets, but always beautiful.
Peepers, crickets, and the evening song of the forest thrush…
Here is a little extra detail on my rain harvesting experiments…
Each side (each collector) is 50 square feet. Each collects about 5 gallons in a 1/4 inch rain storm. The right collector holds my filtering system (beta version–to be described in future posts).
The sun and rain took a toll on my Walmart folding chair and the bottom ripped. So, I cut it out and used the rest of the chair as part of my fancy toilet system. (Ha!)
Daily harvest of green beans.
A summer lunch platter of mostly foraged (violet greens, live-forevers, dandelion greens, and spruce tips) and grown (pea greens, baby lettuce, tomatoes, radish greens and flowers, dill and mint) items, plus store-bought baby bananas, brie cheese, and pepperoncini.
So, this post completes the Living Magazine: Tap Root series, and A Living Magazine series in general.
This post will also be the final cap upon an era that began with the end of my conventional life–one dominated by trying in vain to do all that was expected of me, while hating every second of it – self-hate for allowing myself to be trapped there – as it stressed me out to the point of nearly killing me by heart attack. But all of that is now completely recorded in this blog already. It is the past.
Literally walking out of my last apartment in May of 2011 to live on the street, I began to follow the winding road laid down by the Spark, not only to find it– itself , and myself, but to learn to love myself.
If I could avoid being tempted by despair to give up, I knew I could co-create a new way of living that would be profoundly simpler and more satisfying, while possibly offering something that has eluded me since childhood: true happiness. But I had no idea just what I was getting myself into! Now we know!
First, there was the Odyssey Journey (2011) , wandering the streets of the Greater Portland, Maine, area and getting used to not having a place of my own, in any way. It was my initial training that helped so much in the years to come. Then I lived for two years anywhere I could in Maine, renting rooms and couch surfing. Of course the conventional game was always trying to creep back in. When everybody and their mother cannot bring themselves to think outside the social templates beaten into each of us, my contemplating the unthinkable – going back to the fake life of stuffing my hard earned money into the pockets of my so called superiors – nearly swept me back to the hell I thought I’d left behind. More and more clearly the Spark demanded a complete divorce from the consumerized, numb-skulled life I (after awakening to my own need for a solution) watched the other sleepwalkers pretend to enjoy. It was not for the Spark’s sake, but for my own, that I had to comply…or I would be lost–perhaps forever…
For new readers, that’s when I left Maine almost exactly four years ago, for the first crossing of America ( A Manifest Destiny Journey ), from Maine to California. Then, seeing that the Golden State was actually its own kind of prison, I threw myself into the greatest effort of my entire life. That’s when I became A Living Magazine . This brought a daily description of my world in 367 consecutive days, while I made the land crossing back to the Eastern US, with an extra trip down the Eastern Mississippi states from the Great Lakes to the Gulf Coast, and then a literal walk up the East Coast from Athens, Georgia (in the subseries, A Living Magazine: Homecoming Journey ) , ultimately ending up back in Boston, and thence in Portland, Maine again. The two years of traveling (from 2014-2016) translated to a whole extra lifetime of unique experience. And it is all available for us all to re-experience whenever we want, permanently here on this blog.
Specifically, that year spanning June 21, 2015 to June 21, 2016 will always be the proudest achievement of my life. I have never heard of as intense a hiking project by any other person (which included real-time daily essays, pictures, audio files, videos and essays, etc.).
Of course, it was never appreciated by the larger world in general. And all my fantasies of stardom and fame, if I could but finish that one project, evaporated entirely upon trying to adjust to life in Maine again. I simply knew too much at that point to readjust to the deadening conventional life. I had seen more that most people will ever see.
I didn’t do it all, just to come back and starve in Maine. Disappointed and unable to get a conventional job or an apartment, even as a temporary thing (I had no credit rating, no recent rental history, no recent other than self-employment history, and no one was going out of their way to offer me any of these things), I felt as though nothing had changed–that I’d accomplished nothing–that I’d failed to make headway. So in desperation, I turned back to the only thing that brought in money and kept my story relevant–I hit the road for another (and, it turned out, final) Journey. But the A Living Magazine: Grounded in Maine Journey up the coast, with plans for circling inland, was cut short by a second heart attack.
That was literally the end of my Journeys .
We know now that after recovering I was fortunate enough to run across the Farmington property listing, and the rest (at least so far) is history… On July 21, 2017 I closed on my current property . Somehow, apparently (or not?) the Spark had brought me closer toward what I’d always wanted. It had simply demanded a big training regime (all my country-wide wallking and another brush with death) as a prerequisite.
And, so with this post I complete my work as a Living Magazine. I don’t feel that any further (or attempted) day-by-day accounts of my life are necessary to get my most basic points across, nor do I feel the need to justify why I have done what I have done. I also learned this summer just how much more peaceful my mind is without discussing everything I do or plan on social media. You may not have noticed, but my participatory presence there (mostly Facebook) has been greatly curtailed, in favor of old fashioned experience in the real world. Other do fine in the artificial confines of the social media game. I do not. I find it soul-destroying. Anyway…
So where do we stand now that summer is over? I still have not been able to publish the book I wrote last winter about my adventures, Modern Nomadics – A Manual and Guide , but it is ready to go. Other music and writing projects that I may be publishing (some anonymously) are coming in the next year. I can’t say much more about those right now. But please stay tuned!
What I can do, here at the end of this last Tap Root post, is provide a brief current status as of this late fall update for the development of “SoftAcres” (the name I’ve officially chosen for my land). Referring once again back to the Five Basics for Human Survival I mentioned last spring, here’s an update. (Pictures of some these things will be coming in the next post…)
1. WATER – I have basically perfected rainwater harvesting and effective filtering. I was only able to overcome the frustration of how to gather the rain and how to clean it, by abandoning the ideas of other people and starting again from scratch; using the unique properties of my living situation to craft a new and simpler way of going about it all. I will get into greater detail in a coming post here at the post-Living Magazine blog. 2. FOOD – For the most part, I grew a slew of delicious and fairly prolific vegetables, including, lettuce, kale, chard, spinach, peas (the most satisfying and hardy growers–still green and flowering on this very day, as an early snowstorm pounds Maine), green beans, onions, radish greens, carrot greens, and cherry tomatoes. I discovered that I want to focus more on growing microgreens and sprouts next season. I had wanted to grow cannabis (now that it is legal to do so), but – and people who know me well might be shocked by this decision! – I decided not to do it this year. I had the opportunity too late in the season. I was however very pleasantly surprised to see what nature had provided for me by means of wild plants and mushrooms. I foraged each month since last spring, adding live-forevers , violets, jewelweed, spruce tips, clovers, and dandelion greens, among other plants to my regular diet. Best of all were the abundant edible mushrooms. Many times I skipped having to go in town for meat, by using mushrooms as a substitute. In particular, two plenteous mushrooms took center stage. In the spring and summer it was ash boletes ( Boletinellus merulioides ) which I cut thin and fried up like bacon. As the days grew colder and rainier, an immense amount of “Chicken of the Woods” ( Laetiporus sulphureus ) appeared. These pinkish/white flushes grew at the base of the maple and hornbeam tree stumps from last year’s clearing. I was simply astounded at my bounty, having harvested some 20 pounds of these delicious and nutritious fungi! These were cooked up just as you would pan fry chicken, and the taste was truly like high quality poultry, having a bit of an additional floral and sweet taste. I am looking forward to all of these foodstuffs next summer…and every year to come! 3. SHELTER – Well, as you saw in this spring’s and early summer’s post, I reclaimed and reconditioned my old tent from 2017. But in the last three weeks (not shown here at the blog yet) I built a substantial shelter over that tent, one capable of carrying me safely through the winter. You will be especially interested in this structure and what I was able to do with the few resources available to me. It uses lumber rather than large sticks (last year’s sad structure), and is insulated with clean dry leaves. Unfortunately, I did not have enough money to add all the things that would have made it better, but it aint bad. On a 30 degree F night this last week, I had an inside temperature of 75! The lumber can be transferred to build the little cabin I’ve been wanting as well. Related to this, I have to say though, that one of the positive psychological conclusions I arrived at over this last summer was that I am really in no hurry to build the final cabin. I should be able to survive without it as long as necessary. Yes it would/will be nice to have a “real house,” but after carefully examining my financial situation, I decided that it would be much more advantageous to build my credit and THEN build my house. So that’s what I’m doing. It might not even be built next year. In July of 2020 my mortgage will be paid off. Unless I come up with a more useful plan (or a win fall of sudden resources?) before that, the house will be built that year. God knows I’ve been punished by every kind of environment and challenged by everything I’ve had to wait for so far. It was only a few days ago while clearing brush, that I stood up for a moment with my hands on my hips and said to the squirrels and birds, “I think the big plan is actually working…in its own slow way.” The point is, any life that I can live on my own land , by my own plans , is far superior to that poisonous (to me) conventional life, and certainly beats the shit out of sleeping on roadsides! I am resolved to never compromise on a crappier alternative structure, like a prefab shed, or “tiny house on a trailer” type of thing. I am willing to wait until I can do it right, and also not have some cheesy, junky structure to then find a place for when the real cabin is built. Or, even worse, become complacent in my standards and settle for living in some shed, made up to look like a house. 4. HEAT – I always wanted a non-fossil fuel heating plan. But for now, propane is the wor! It is exceedingly efficient and just bearly affordable enough for me. A 20 pound tank (filled for $15) will last about 10-15 days in my 90 square foot space. Eventually, my cabin will have radiant floor heating, and probably a very small backup wood stove. Just please know that when I request donations to help me survive through the winter, having a secure amount of propane will be the most important thing. As mentioned above, I also packed in a huge amount of clean dry leaves as insulation for this winter shelter. What a humongous help! More on that later. 5. ELECTRICITY – I still have my one incredible, 100 watt solar panel and my 12 volt, deep cycle golf cart battery. That battery is a goddamn workhorse! Deep cycle batteries (sealed lead acid) are not like your car battery. They can be discharged to nearly zero, and still rebound to full charge–over and over. Counterintuitively, I am receiving about twice as many hours of sunlight now in the late fall (daylight is shorter, but there are no leaves on the trees to block it). Nevertheless, I spent my very last savings on a pair of new batteries to add as a second circuit (battery bank) to my system. They will be delivered within a week or so, at which time I will also receive two dual pole safety switches and a second meter. In this way I can make a control and monitoring panel, allowing me to choose which bank is being charged or discharged. I can charge one and use it while the other charges up, unhindered by a load, then switch over, etc.
I even bought a motorized bicycle. I rode it a few times, but it has issues that need to be addressed. It will make a good over winter project for spring use.
My biggest regret is not being able to afford a snow blower. I have a feeling that getting in and out of this property is going to be an immense challenge without being able to clear the snow. But winter seems to be intent on just starting off in the middle of fall. If I’d been able to buy a relatively small snowblower and wanted to make a round trip pass, snow blowing down my private road to the main road (about a half mile) and back again, it would not really be as crazy as it sounds. Moving at 1/2 mph, it would only take an hour to reach the main road and an hour to get back (maybe two gallons of gas). Still it would have been cheaper than having it plowed, and much less strenuous than shoveling the damn thing. But, sometimes required abilities don’t come all at once–understatement, in my case.
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Okay, well that’s pretty much it for now. In the last few months I have come up with a hundred other things to tell you. But they will have to wait for essays and alternate posts soon to arrive. Presently, I am back to having no source of income besides this blog .
So, I have to go back to my old school methods and humbly ask for your financial help – only if you are able – as we begin this winter of new ideas tasks together.
Thank you so much, if you are able. Please just click on the PayPal Donate button at the top of this blog page. Or if you’d like to do something more sustaining, you can pledge a small recurring amount each month of your choice through Patreon . At the very least, please go to Patreon and click ” Follow ,” for free, for all of the updates and my other projects to come.
THANK YOU, IWALLKers!
The hiatus is over! Time to get back to work!